Tuesday, September 12, 2006

500-some days to retirement

I kept thinking, this kind of stress would be understandable if I worked in the operating room of Emergency. Or if I were an air traffic controller. I kept smiling at people and speaking in a soothing voice. "Two hundred items for course reserves have arrived on my desk within two days and I can't be at my desk. I'm sorry. I know you need to do the assigned readings, and I'll get them out as fast as I can. I know this is very difficult but it will be sorted out soon."

Nothing goes smoothly. Every student has an expired record, a new address, a new email and phone number to update. As we do each update, the lineup grows. Four hundred people need records entered, from scratch and everyone with available fingers is typing them in. There is no such thing as swiping a barcode, and then scanning book barcodes and simply loaning them. Delay piles on delay. Oh. You didn't know you had $45.00 in fines? Did you not get your email? Most of the new students don't know how to use the online catalogue and need help. The professors, oblivious for the most part, to the fact that I'm training a student and have a lineup of people waiting, want to discuss their course reserves right then and there - without submitting anything in writing. By the end of the day, I'm saying, "I don't know what's on my desk. I haven't been there today." My new assistant tells me, looking like she expects on-the-spot execution, that she's changing her classes and can't work Thursday night. The one thing that was settled, the schedule, blows apart like a house of cards in a stiff wind.

By 2:oo o'clock, I go to the office. I hurl a reserve file folder across my desk. And then try to breathe. I pick up my messages to find that the Scorpio has called twice and it's too late to return the call. He's bleeding and it's not minor and he's going home. He's going to try to see the doctor. I burst into tears and throw my arms around Emilie, a beloved former student assistant who's come in to visit with her new baby. "It's a bad, bad day," I wail.

And then I try to breath again and go back out there.

At the end of the day, my new student assistant, who, to her credit, has not fled, screaming, looks at me, stunned and asks, "Are all your days like this?"

"Yes. Well. Yes, they are for the first three or four weeks."

I manage not to cry noticably on the bus trip home. When I get through my door, I don't know what to do. The stress has so permeated my entire body that I can't imagine how to make the strumming tension stop. I notice that I am holding my breath and I exhale. Big deep breath. Exhale. It helps a little, but my shoulders are still attached to my earlobes and the tightness seems to extend from my three-week old headache to the soles of my feet.

I pour the first glass of wine I've had in a while. There is only a little left in the bottle.

And I come here. Because there is no place else to go, I don't know what else to do and tomorrow will not be any better.

16 comments:

Koru's Daughter said...

I am sorry that you had such a rough day. I am also sorry that you have many more of them to come. If it will help, I offer to bore to death the academic administrator of your choice.

zhoen said...

Oh, poor sweet baby. Be kind to yourself.

Jess said...

"I kept thinking, this kind of stress would be understandable if I worked in the operating room of Emergency. Or if I were an air traffic controller. "

Hey, do not belittle your stress! Look at it this way: if an air traffic controller was brought in to replace you tomorrow, he would be even more stressed than you. At least you pretty much know what you're doing, right? And still you are stressed. Therefore, clearly, there is plenty of reason to be stressed.

The wine is a good idea, according to my sister, but you need enough so your lips will loosen up and say "F--k it."

beadbabe49 said...

you need more people to enter data?

have you asked for help and been turned down or have you just kept on trying to keep up with it?

I'm confuzled...

Anonymous said...

BB49- Sister LJ works in a place where there is no help, and asking makes the person you ask start checking on how much trouble it would be to eliminate your position.

Now DOB, I do recall some years ago when the Great Altantic Baloney Factory was stressing me out on a variety of levels, and you gently suggested that the whole damned thing was an awful joke. I felt better.

Today, I was given the task of preparing 452 items for no less than six seminars in just under two hours, later I get to make sure all of those items are in good order upon return (cables coiled, all pieces accounted for, all bits in the right kits...) Oh, and I get to teach a seminar myself. Oh, and they're cutting my hours. And 14,000 dollars off the operating budget.

The Great Pacific Baloney Factory at it's finest.

But I did not snap. I got reeal cranky, but no one got hurt. And it's all because I've come to understand that it's an awful joke, albeit one that makes all my problems seem worse. Soooo, if the Great Atlantic Baloney Factory has begun to fly off the rails, remember that unless you're from planet Krypton, there's little to do but let 'er go off into the woods. You didn't cut it back to bare bone, and they don't have a Shop Steward.

Unless you are from planet Krypton, that would explain a few things...

-marko

Mary said...

hugs ...

herhimnbryn said...

Freddy. Uncle. Charlie. Kate.

Walk or run or throw something lj. Just don't hold it in.
It will be there tomorrow but you WILL cope, unfortunately you will have to. Find something to open the release valve at the end of every day.

Reading your words I felt mine would not be enough. Mary has it right...hugs... if we were there you'd get a hug and a couple of bottles of wine and a natter!

Katie said...

Ah, LJ. I thought I was having a bad week. You just topped me.

I am sorry. I echo herhimnbryn in that I feel my words won't be enough. There are some things that words just can't help. But know that I am thinking about you. Know that there are people who care. And know that 500 and some odd days, though they seem to be many, will fly by and you will be retired wondering just when exactly did that happen. And then you will be beading to your heart's content.

On a different note, glad to have you back here. Missed the comment situation too. Maybe after all the kinks are worked out, Hindenburg will resume once more. But I love LOE. It feels like a good friend's home when I visit.

Take care of yourself, LJ.

Hang in there, much love, J

LJ said...

KD - I would prefer you helped me hide a couple bodies. Come on. You ARE my friend.

Jess. Excellent advice. Almost there I think. The Minor Deity is helping me put in the new computer tonight. There will be wine and pizza and hopefully we will gossip viciously.

Marko. Want to run away, Babes? (Yes, yes. You can take Rocket Chick).

BB - One coworker is pitching in like crazy, a really experienced student assistant is helping. It's not enough. By a long shot.


Mary and H - all hugs gratefully received. Truly. And I have thrown things. Oh. And today, I took myself out to the harbor and hid and had another good cry.

Jamie. Thanks honey. With all this insanity, I'm so glad to be back.

Update: The Scorpio has an appointment for tests. He's feeling a bit better today. He hit his stoic phase way before me.

Me? I look forward to not whining about the great friggin' baloney factory. Not caring about it at all.

Thanks folks. So much.

LJ said...

Missed Zhoen! Any openings in an operating room near you? And does a really long hot bath count as taking care of myself?
Thanks, Z.

Koru's Daughter said...

Dear LJ,

I would be happy to help you hide the bodies. I will get a job at a fast food joint, grind up the corpses, and stir them into the special sauce. That's how I usually hide them.

KD

Jess said...

Hey, it's Friday... that's a good thing, right? Yay? And, going on 4 p.m. here, so... Eastern time there? 7 p.m.? You are prob'ly home already, soakin' in another long hot bath which, since you've brought it up, sounds awfully good to me.

Patry Francis said...

Hope you have a great, relaxing weekend.

phlegmfatale said...

Awww, poor poppet. I hate thinking of you having a hard time, though I know it just comes with the territory. It's crappy that people make such unreasonable demands, and the instructors sound like the worst of the lot. I hope you've had a lovely weekend.

LJ said...

Jess, Patry F, Phelgmy...
Had a wonderful x-rated Saturday. Nothing like it to sort out tension. Sunday, today, I'm working on a necklace...and life feels ok. Thanks everyone.

Jess D'Zerts said...

What? You had x? Well, damn, girl, doesn't that just take the edge off.